My mom used to say that there was no trouble in life that a walk to the river wouldn’t heal. I think natural bodies of water have that effect on us. They tend to calm our souls and make us feel at peace with everything around us. The waves lapping and the sun beating down seem to be therapeutic. All the stress and anxiety melt away and your body just seems to say, “Relax, everything is fine.”
I love the ocean. It is wide and eternal. It reminds me of God. How His love never ends for us. Just like the waves that keep coming, His love keeps rolling in. The Bible says that if we counted God’s thoughts to us they would be more numerous than the sands in the sea. And more than the mighty breakers of the sea, the Lord is mighty! So no matter how boisterous the ocean is, God is even stronger than that. The ocean can pick you up and drag you down and fling you onto the sand. God can pick us up and hold us firmly in His hands and never let us go. While the ocean will throw us away, God will never do so if we are His children. Sometimes we may scream and kick at Him, but He still holds on tight until we calm down and accept His will.
I love the beach. I love the time I spent there with my family. I love the fun times we had, the jokes we made, the memories we shared and the long talks around the bonfire at night. But more than that, I love the fact that God has worked out all the trials and tribulations our family have faced over the years. Sometimes we wondered if we would have each other or even speak to each other again, but God is the one who calmed me and told me that we would make it through somehow. He gave me the strength to carry on, and to believe that love would prevail in the end. You rule the swelling of the sea. When the waves rise, you still them.
They say when you get older, your memory fails. But I’m not finding that to be true. I may forget unimportant stuff like where I left my purse or my keys, but the most crucial events of my life are planted forever in my brain, and in fact, are becoming more substantial and poignant as time flies by.
For instance, I remember vividly when each of my children were born. I remember the surprise I felt when I fell head over heels in love with my firstborn. I didn’t expect it. I never liked babies much. But when I held her in my arms, I never wanted to let her go. She was the reason for my existence all of a sudden. Then my son was born. We like to joke and say he was an ugly baby. He was all red and hairy. He even had hair on his back, but he quickly grew into one of the most handsome men I know. His compassion and sense of humor has always brightened every day of my life. And then there was my youngest child. Words fail to describe how much I loved her and still love her. The ache in my heart became a hole when she left to live 1000 miles away.
Why am I so nostalgic all of a sudden? Two reasons. We are celebrating my oldest daughter’s birthday this weekend. I am so blessed to have her in my life. Especially since the birth of my grandson, we have grown closer. Miles has fulfilled his name and took those miles that separated us, not physical miles but maybe some emotional ones, and tied our hearts together so tight, I hope they never unravel.
The other reason is in one week I’m going to be going on a journey. It’s been long overdue. I’m going to finally hold my youngest daughter in my arms. I’m going to see her face to face. I haven’t seen her in a year and a half. That’s a lot for someone I spent practically every waking moment with prior to that time since the day she was born. After not seeing her for so long, seeing her again will be almost surreal. I wouldn’t be able to go on this trip except that an angel volunteered to take me to see her. She says I am doing her a favor so she has company on the trip as she is going to her daughter’s wedding, but I know she is doing this because she is such a caring person, and I am grateful that she has made this extraordinary offer. She will never know what it means to me.
This is where I thank God for his blessings. Being able to see my daughter again. Being blessed with three beautiful children and one handsome grandson. And having friends who are willing to go way beyond what I could possibly hope so my heart’s desire could be fulfilled. The Bible says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” My heart has been ailing for a long time. There were times in my life when I couldn’t see my way out of the darkness. But there is no darkness that God can’t shine His light through.
When I first thought of writing this series, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be. Not because I couldn’t think of things I’m thankful for, but because there were too many things I was thankful for. Also, I was thinking surely while picking and choosing for a month’s series, I’m bound to leave somebody/something out I should have included. As I considered this, I began to think that I would need to be more inclusive when I wrote this blog. I definitely can’t be thankful for just one thing. So, for this particular blog, to make it more relevant for the times, I decided on God and country.
God and country sounds like a country western song. In fact, it’s lauded in a majority of country music. But when I thought about my thankful list, God was definitely at the top. I’m 100% sure I would never have made it this far without my faith in God. God gives me strength every day to begin the day and end the day. My personality is melancholic. I have these days where I soar and these days where I’m down, and I’m not bipolar. I’m just prone to fly by the seat of my emotions. Every put down, real or imagined, from a person is a dagger in my hide. Every compliment is like a flowering garden. God is the steady anchor in my life. If everyone seems to have neglected me or let me down, God is always there. He is my guiding light. Every decision I make is colored by is this the one God would choose for me. Or it should be. God is my shepherd. He’s not the dictator in my life. He doesn’t crack the whip. He just leads me. He wraps his arms around me and lets me cry. And sometimes he gives me a gentle nudge so I can move on forward and not backwards in my life.
I am also thankful for my country. Right now, I’m not at highest hopes for it. This election has been a sad time. People I know as well as myself are afraid to mention who they are voting for. Nobody likes the candidates. And they’ve both descended to new lows on how they ran their campaigns. But beyond all that, our country which is so flawed is still a great country to live in. We have freedoms. I can go to church every week where I want and talk about my faith, and nobody is going to beat me up or throw me into jail. I can succeed or fail as I desire and work for, because that’s built into the framework of how we live in this country. Although there are bad people in it who make me sick inside, there are also very good people who reach out and help others in need. There are people who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and they can because we live in the greatest country in the world, the United States of America.
So when you go out to vote, and I hope you do next week, just be thankful for the privilege that you have to vote, and for the God this country was founded on. We are truly blessed beyond all measure.